Student had porn images of children aged 7 to 14

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An IT student who had 195 pornographic photographs and movies of children aged from seven to 14 years is to be sentenced at Derry Crown Court on Friday.

Brendan Murphy (23), was a student at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus, when his housemates discovered the images on his laptop computer and reported the matter to police, the court heard on Tuesday.

The student from Meadowlands Avenue in Warrenpoint, Co Down, admitted 22 charges of possessing the indecent images of children and a further charge of possessing an extreme pornographic image depicting bestiality. The offences took place between December 2009 and March 2010.

The court heard that the pornographic material included eleven photographs and one movie classed as being category 5, the classification which includes the most offensive material. The other images and movies found ranged from category two to category four.

A prosecution barrister told the court that the defendant was a student at Magee campus in March 2010 and was living in accommodation he shared with several others in the Rosemount area. He said that the housemates “freely” had access to each others’ personal computers with consent and that as a result the defendant’s housemates discovered child porn images and contacted police. Following a search of the house, police seized two computers belonging to the defendant and following examination “a number of still images and movie files of various categories” were identified.

He added that the defendant made an admission of guilt “early on” during police interview and in court.

A defence barrister said that the images were taken from file sharing website Limewire but were not burned to disc, distributed or paid for by Murphy.

He said reports into the defendant’s behaviour were carried out by the Probation Service and a psychologist, and that both came to “remarkably similar conclusions”.

He said one report stated that the defendant had “a difficult childhood” and was diagnosed with dyslexia in Primary 4 but did not get assistance until Primary 6. He said that it was reported that Murphy became “isolated” in primary school and was bullied by other children and that he considered himself an “outsider”.

The defence barrister said that the psychologist’s report stated that Murphy’s “one wish was to have friends”, that he had difficulty in forming relationships and “never had any sexual experience beyond kissing”.

It further stated that Murphy had a certain loss of “reality control”. It added that he had no primary interest in children and that “it had started to develop” as a result of his long term viewing of internet pornography which he had become “increasingly desensitized to” since the age of 16.

The defence barrister added that both reports said there was “no indication” that Murphy would go on to commit further offences.

Murphy was automatically placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register after admitting the offences. The duration of time he spends on the register is to be determined when he is sentenced.

Murphy, who had been on bail since pleading guilty to the offences last month, was remanded in custody by Judge Piers Grant who is due to impose sentence on Friday.